Helpful AT for People With Cerebral Palsy

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By Alexa McBride, YO! Disabled and Proud Volunteer

Alexa McBride, YO! Disabled and Proud Volunteer
Hi! My name is Alexa McBride. I have cerebral palsy and have found a few adaptive devices that have helped me get through life easier.

For example, when I was in high school I started using a laptop computer. However, the way I navigated my way around my laptop is different then using a standard mouse with a computer. The “mouse” that I used was attached to my wheelchair on the sides of my headrest. It had two buttons that I could hit by tilting my head to the side.  One button would move the mouse cursor and another button would select the item that I would choose. The keyboard I had was actually on my screen of the laptop and I would use the same device located on my headrest to select the letter I wanted to type. This device quickly became easier for me to use and I became very accustomed to navigating with my head. This system works the best for me because I cannot really use my hands consistently. Unfortunately, this device was taken away from me when I graduated high school because it was on loan from the school district.

Low vision keyboard with keyguard

Now that I am in college, I decided that I had to teach myself how to use my hands and type on the computer with a keyguard.  A keyguard is designed to help people who may have trouble pressing only one key at a time.  It can be a plastic or metal frame that fits securely over the keyboard and provides physical separation between each key so that one doesn’t accidentally hit the keys next to the one they are trying to hit.

Today I can use a mouse that works and looks like a regular mouse except it is a little bit larger and has a ball in the front of it that I use to move the cursor around. The large ball moves around just like the scroll wheel does on a standard mouse.  Both the keyguard and the trackball mouse make navigating the computer much easier for me.

In addition to the computer being adapted to my needs, I also own a van that has a ramp in the back of it for better wheelchair access.  All I have to do is drive up the ramp and sit in the back in my wheelchair. I am grateful for my car and the access to transportation that it gives me. Without my car I could not do -or have- the things that I do now. For example, if I didn’t have my car I would not be going to Sacramento State College and pursuing my career dream of being a 7thgrade math teacher. I also wouldn’t be able to just hang out with my friends at the library. If I didn’t have my van I would always have to plan my entire day in advance.

In conclusion,  I am very thankful for my all my assistive technology devices.  Without them, it would be very difficult to enjoy the same activities, work and study to pursue my career goals. I encourage everyone with a disability to explore the many amazing AT adaptations that can help people be independent. 

5 thoughts on “Helpful AT for People With Cerebral Palsy

  1. This is awesome! Keep it up, Alexa! I just stumbled across this blog and thought I’d comment to say how cool it is that you’re sharing your success stories with the world. Also, there are several articles on CP Family Network about new and different adaptive technologies for people with CP. Check it out! And keep it up!

  2. My 15-year-old Granddaughter Lauren Walier has Cerebral Palsy. On 10/18/13 she spoke at The American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, a global audience of doctors, researchers, clinicians, therapists, etc. in Milwaukee, WI. Please be patient as she is very emotional and nervous getting started.

    Please help Lauren by forwarding this to every email address you have. Lauren is a very courageously starting a crusade to help people less fortunate that she is by raising funds and awareness for cerebral palsy research and therapy. In May through August she rasied over $7000 for her cause. Please help us make Lauren’s foundation, Make Lemon Aide for Cerebral Palsy and Lauren a major fundraiser for CP. Every penny Lauren raises goes to her cause. Listen to her dreams and please support them to come true.


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